Late Drama at Terrence McMillan Stadium: Athletic Newham Secure Injury-Time Win Against The Stags
Athletic Newham 1 – 0 Buckhurst Hill
Saturday 27th January 2024, Essex Senior Premier League
By Mark Williams.
It was a tough loss to take. Unbeaten in the league this year, and with a strong squad available, including Suley back in the lineup, I was hoping for a positive outcome at The Terrence McMillan Stadium. We had outplayed Step 4 Basildon United in the Thameside Trophy, only to lose to a controversial penalty in the 95th minute.
Our starting lineup featured Finn in goal, a back four of Sammy, Max, Alfie, and Ted, and a midfield comprising Ollie, George, Timmy, and Youcef, with Suley and Jaedon up top. The pitch is challenging even under optimal conditions, making it imperative to play percentage football.
The first half was evenly contested, but we were rushing our passes and failed to settle. Losing Timmy early was a setback as he fell on the concrete part of the running track surrounding the pitch. Markus came on as his replacement, but the desire to reach the ball first was lacking compared to our performance on Tuesday. Although Newham had a few half-chances, we had a great opportunity to take the lead.
George Johnson found himself clean through with the goalkeeper to beat, but he should have gone around the already-grounded keeper. Instead, he hit it straight at him, and the chance was lost. Both Adam and I felt that scoring would have settled us, paving the way for further success. At halftime, we went in level.
In the second half, we were more focused and started to stretch their back four. Chandler replaced Youcef and had a chance but took too long, resulting in a lost opportunity. This tendency to hold onto the ball too long has affected all our front players recently, causing us to miss chances to shoot early.
Newham should have been reduced to 10 men after an awful studs-up challenge on Suley, but the referee only issued a yellow card. Despite Newham having a few breaks, they created little, and we missed several chances to capitalize. George Thompson replaced Jaedon as we pursued the win.
A ball across the 6-yard box was missed with the goal gaping, and the Newham keeper pulled off a couple of good saves. It seemed like a point was the best we could secure after controlling the second half. However, another injury-time goal, following a foul by Ollie and a peach of a free-kick from Newham’s CB, went into the net.
While there are no complaints about the foul, the referee being assessed had a poor game and missed several crucial calls. We’ve played three times at the ground since our promotion into the ESL and lost all three. There’s work to be done for myself and Adam in figuring out how to improve on that.
Lastly, Athletic Newham is a lovely club with a commendable committee, coaches, and staff. However, The Terrence McMillan so-called stadium is a substandard facility with a shocking pitch, and I can’t believe it passes ground grading. Our next challenge is the start of three cup games, beginning with the visit of Isthmian Premier team Canvey Island in the 4th round of the BBC ESSEX SENIOR CUP this Tuesday, January 30th, at Myrak Park.